Summer vacation for 15 high school students started with two weeks of learning and discovering there is more to animal care than meets the eye.
Fort Valley State University hosted the annual AgDiscovery program June 4-15, with participants ages 14-17 residing on campus. Students from as far as Kansas experienced hands-on laboratories, field trips and other activities focused on animal science and health. Some of their firsthand training included horse surgery, dog exams and wildlife control, in addition to touring a goat dairy farm, the Georgia Aquarium and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Jasmine Mann, 17, of Hughesville, Maryland, started participating in AgDiscovery her freshman year of high school. She first learned about the program from her Future Farmers of America (FFA) teacher.
The St. Charles High School senior visited the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Tuskegee University before coming to FVSU. “It is a good program because it shows you the college aspect and I learned about a lot of different operations more in depth,” she said.
Mann, who is interested in attending FVSU, Georgia’s only 1890 Land-Grant University, aspires to be a veterinarian or work with animals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Abby Basile, 16, of Olathe, Kansas, learned about AgDiscovery through her school’s animal health program. Like Mann, she also participated in a previous program at Iowa State University.
The Olathe North High School junior said she wanted to apply to FVSU’s program because it was exclusive to veterinary science. Excited about the opportunity, the highlight of the program for her was seeing the beagles at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in action. The Beagle Brigade sniffs luggage to keep potentially harmful food products and pests from entering the U.S.
The aspiring small animal veterinarian recommends that other students apply for the AgDiscovery program. “It is a good experience and it looks good on resumes,” Basile said.
Furthermore, Georgians Caleb Harper-Blair, 17, and Deja Keen, 16, enjoyed interacting with the various animals throughout the program.
“I did not know the amount of work that goes into cleaning the horses. I never really had a pet of my own,” said Harper-Blair of Augusta, Georgia. His career goal is to work with exotic animals.
Keen, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, said the program offers insight into the various professions she could pursue. “Instead of just researching it, I get to experience it hands on,” she said.
Dr. George McCommon, FVSU’s department head and professor of veterinary science and public health, said the AgDiscovery program provides students the opportunity to see the many careers available from biotechnology to wildlife services.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) funds AgDiscovery. Currently, 22 universities nationwide host the summer program in different agricultural disciplines.
For more information about AgDiscovery, visit https://bit.ly/2jzXva3.